Read as much as you want on BostonGlobe.com, anywhere and anytime, for just 99¢.

Boston Foundation assets exceed $1 billion

The Boston Foundation’s assets have passed the $1 billion mark, after a year of strong investment gains and a record $112 million in grants made to charities.

The 99-year-old community foundation also recorded its second-best year of raising money, as donors sent it $112 million during the fiscal year ended June 30. The foundation had raised $131 million the prior year, when many philanthropists were concerned about possible changes in the tax code that could have affected the deductibility of donations.

Continue reading below

The foundation’s assets grew 11.6 percent in the latest fiscal year, from $896 million to just over $1 billion.

“I’d like to think it’s a combination of a favorable economy but also above-average investment returns,’’ said Paul S. Grogan, the foundation’s chief executive.

The fund reported a 15.7 percent investment return for the year, roughly matching the 15.6 percent median return for foundations and endowments, according to the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service.

The foundation hires outside firms to manage its money but entrusts its investment policy to a board that includes Harvard University endowment chief Jane Mendillo and her predecessor there, Jack Meyer, as well as former Fidelity Investments executive Ronald O’Hanley.

The $112 million in gifts the foundation paid out to charities represented an increase of 15.5 percent over the previous year.

“It shows people aren’t just parking their money here, they’re very active,’’ Grogan said.

The foundation oversees its own funds as well as money from clients who establish individual charitable accounts there, known as donor-advised funds.

The gifts typically weigh heavily in education. About a third of all the foundation’s and donors’ grants go to schools, from those focused on early education to universities.

Social services of all kinds are also major grant recipients, followed by arts and cultural institutions, and then hospitals and neighborhood health care facilities.

Over the years, the foundation has had a hand in many efforts, from building the New England Aquarium on the harbor to the redevelopment of a dilapidated Faneuil Hall Marketplace to battling AIDS and tuberculosis.

More recently, the foundation has awarded $10 million to help expand Commuter Rail service on the Fairmount Line through Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. Over the past decade, Grogan said, the foundation has directed $100 million to Boston arts organizations.

Founded in 1915, the Boston Foundation is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the country. It was started by bankers and endowed first by James Longley, a longtime South End resident who made his fortune in textiles. Longley left a $4 million bequest in 1917 to what was then called the Permanent Charity Fund — a gift worth about $75 million in today’s dollars.

After that, the foundation would become the first community fund in the country with enough money to start making grants.

Today the Boston Foundation is the 15th largest community charitable fund in the United States, while funds in Silicon Valley; Tulsa, Okla.; and New York top the list.

Beth Healy can be reached at beth.healy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.
Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com